So, the big romance day of 2015 has come and gone. The commercial world was full of red and white and cupids and love. Our private hearts were full of hope and expectation.
Would he propose? Would she say yes? Did he think of me? Was there an expression of love, candlelight…a box of chocolates?
Movies and the media highlight that this is the season of joy or pain—joy if you are in a [successful] romantic relationship; pain if you are not. No matter which category you are in, it is likely that your romantic expectations arise from our incredibly “love” focused society.
We so thoroughly celebrate being in love that many of us come to not only expect it but also believe we are entitled to it. But thinking that you ought to have romance or that you deserve a desirable partner doesn’t make it happen.
The very language surrounding being in-love seems to emphasize its chance nature: “falling,” “head over heels,” “losing one’s head,” “bewitched,” “swept off your feet.”
In almost any other area of life, a desired outcome requires careful planning and hard work.
Why should a successful romantic relationship demand anything less?
The terms above would seem ridiculous in any other context: “I’m head over heels about being a medical doctor; the idea of being a lawyer has bewitched me; I’ve lost my head about becoming wealthy.”
Often we don’t know what to do after we “fall” for someone! There are clear paths to achieving wealth or becoming a lawyer or doctor. Are there some parallels in the search for romance?
What if romance was not the point—the goal? But instead, what if romance was the result of other relationship success factors?
After all, a personally rewarding career is the result of experience, education and appropriate fit. We can write this as a formula:
Education + Experience + Appropriate fit = Rewarding career
If romance is the end result, what does its formula look like?
Self-assessment + Mechanisms for growth + Relational knowledge = Romance
Let’s take a closer look!
The path to romance begins with self-assessment. Rather than seeking that special someone, the first step is to know yourself—that is to determine whether you yourself are relationship ready. Take personal inventory of your strengths, neutral qualities (such as age, height, ethnicity) that may influence your choice of a partner, and negative qualities that may challenge a relationship.
For the positive qualities (say, you are excellent at communications or maintain high fitness), pat yourself on the back and continue to grow in those areas. For the areas that are neutral, just be aware of them and how they may impact choices.
The negative qualities will require more time. Let’s say you are habitually critical. That quality will seriously challenge any relationship.
You have two options: Remain as you are and suffer a string of unsuccessful relationships, or decide to change.
But, how do you change?
You start by considering what is the opposite of criticism. Such as: “expressions of appreciation.” If you become habitually appreciative, seeking the good in others, you position yourself for wonderful relationships.
Here are the steps:
- Get a small notepad for pocket or purse
- Acquire an accountability person that you meet with each evening for the first month
- Note as you begin a criticism; stop yourself, make a compliment instead
- Write down (in your notepad) each instance
- Review your progress each evening with your accountability person
Now, you may catch only two of 20 criticisms on the first day and only be able to come up with a compliment once. Fine! The next day you might go 3 and 2. By the end of the month your friends will notice the difference. By the end of a year you will habitually be seeking the good in others and supporting and affirming them.
The new you will attract many more romantic possibilities than the old you.
The effort to understand yourself, to be willing to grow and to study relationships will greatly increase the odds of finding an extraordinary love that endures—and grows ever richer. And after all, isn’t that much sweeter than a box of chocolates?